Westfield offers AR ‘holiday hunt’ with flex payments provider

Westfield is partnering with BNPL platform Afterpay to provide an AR-activated customer experience.

Westfield shopping centers are leveraging augmented reality (AR) technology for a new interactive holiday promotion.

For the 2021 holiday season, shopping center operator Westfield is partnering with buy now, pay later (BNPL) platform Afterpay to provide customers with an AR-activated scavenger hunt experience. The interactive experience leverages Westfield's existing digital network, and will feature QR codes throughout participating Westfield centers in the U.S.

When activated, the codes will prompt shoppers to scan and help find Afterpay's “Hidden Helpers” in an AR environment. Upon scanning, shoppers will be taken on an AR-based “holiday adventure” to uncover five Hidden Helpers throughout the center, which will unlock special deals and promotions at retailers that utilize Afterpay’s flex payment solution.

The promotion builds upon an integrated, multi-year national partnership Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), owner of Weestfield centers in the U.S., entered with Afterpay in July 2021. At the time, the companies said they would jointly invest in new customer experiences, retail innovation, events, marketing and on-premise advertising at Westfield shopping centers. The joint activity will initially extend to Westfield centers in the U.S., with plans to take the partnership global in the coming months.

Despite the acceleration of e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent survey conducted by Westfield found that nearly half of consumers are excited to shop in-person again, with 63% of consumers calling in-person shopping a "special treat." In addition, 73% of surveyed shoppers said that the ability to go home with their purchases right away is a big factor in their decision to return to malls.

In addition, a number of retailers are rolling out the Afterpay in-store flex payment solution. These companies include Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, J.Crew, Madewell, American Eagle, Aerie, Tilly's, Morphe, Alo Yoga, Parachute Home, and Le Creuset Signature Boutiques and Outlet Stores. Airport and resort-casino specialty retailer Marshall Retail Group is also rolling out Afterpay, including in its InMotion locations.

Westfield and other retailers are implementing BNPL technology as consumer appetite for flex payment options grows. According to recent data from eMarketer, more than forty-five million (45.1) U.S consumers (ages 14 and older) will use a buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) platform this year, up 81.2% over last year. Younger consumers are driving the adoption of flexible payments, eMarketer said. Millennials account for 42.7% of BNPL, followed by Gen Zers, which account for 30.3%.

"The current economic climate and supply chain issues have impacted the way consumers are shopping this holiday season, proving an even greater need for flexible shopping and payment options," said David Di Bene, VP of retail marketing at Afterpay. "By bringing our in-store capabilities to top new brands, and mixing innovation into the shopping experience, we're helping provide consumers with greater freedom and convenience for their holiday shopping in a way that's both fun and engaging."

As of June 30, 2021, Afterpay is offered by nearly 100,000 retailers around the world, and nearly 20 million consumers have signed up in North America.

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